U.S.A. -(AmmoLand.com)- The 590A1 from Mossberg has the honor of being the shotgun of choice for the United States military. This bad mother trucker took the Mossberg 500 and built it up to be the monster it’s become. Mossberg specifically followed the demands made by the military and built the shotgun to a specific set of standards. The latest model is the 590A1 Retrograde.
They’ve released numerous models that have strayed from the original military spec in a few ways. The 590A1 Retrograde occupies the slot of a non-traditional model. Funny enough, the Retrograde series tend to embrace the tradition. As you can see, Mossberg’s Retrograde series adorns traditional fighting shotguns with old-school features.
590A1 Retrograde Features and Design
The 590A1 Retrograde wears wood furniture, complete with a corn cob forend and wooden stock. The wood is made from walnut and features a great grip texture on both ends. The corn cob forend provides enough surface to dig into without issue, and the rear chick checking is old-school effective.
That’s not where the Retro ends either. We get a parkerized finish that gives it that old-school grey appearance that fighting shotguns were known for. The thick, heavy-walled 20-inch barrel wears a heat shield that gives the gun an aggressive appearance that’s tough to beat. Below the barrel and magazine tube sits a little metal square. That’s your bayonet lug, in case you need to stab things after you shoot them.
It’s not exactly a beauty queen, but it’s still a beautiful shotgun. The 590A1 Retrograde harkens back to the days of trench guns before we slapped rails and optics on everything.
Shucking with 590A1 Retrograde
At the range, you might find the 13.87-inch length of pull to be a bit long. However, it’s perfect for my gorilla-like arms. It fits just right. The magazine tube holds eight 2.75 inch 12 gauge shotgun shells. Combine that tube full of buckshot and that heavy-walled barrel, and you get a very front heavy shotgun. It swings fast and easy, and the up-front weight helps mitigate muzzle rise.
The 590A1 Retrograde isn’t super friendly if you have to hold the gun up for an extended period of time. It might start feeling like an isometric exercise. The 590A1 Retrograde has the Mossberg sloppy pump we all know and love. It’s not tight and smooth like a Benelli Nova or a Wingmaster, but it gets the job done and tends to smooth out over time.
That checkered rear grip and forward pump corn cob pump-action allow for a good tight grip on the gun. Running some recoil mitigation techniques is easy with the gun. You can make quick work out of 8 rounds of buckshot without killing your shoulder.
Dual-action bars and dual extractors ensure every type of round I put through this thing extracted and ejected with ease. High brass, low brass, cheap foreign ammo, and associated junk all feed without complaint. If it fits into the chamber, it seems to fire, extract and eject. Even mini shells work most of the time and work 100% of the time when the Opsol adapter is installed.
The big high visibility orange front sight is quick to see through the wide ghost ring rear sight. These sights give you brilliant precision for a shotgun and are nice and big for quick target acquisition. As much as I love a bead sight, the ghost ring sights deliver you way more precision without sacrificing much speed. I can be a hair faster with a bead, but when I’m armed with a modern buckshot, I want precision.
I use Flitecontrol as my home defense load of choice, and the ghost ring sights allow me to take advantage of that tight patterning load. Speaking of patterning, you get the 590A1 effect with the 590A1 Retrograde. The combination of the heavy-walled barrel and additional point of contact due to the bayonet lug improves the harmonics of the barrel.
590A1s pattern much tighter than other cylinder bore guns. Often up to almost 50% better than similar shotguns. I did an entire experiment here if you want to see the numbers. I love using the 590A1 because even the cheapest buckshot patterns decently from these guns.
Wood and Steel.
The 590A1 Retrograde might take some liberties to look nice and retro in design, but it’s still a very effective fighting shotgun. As much as we love polymer and rails, they don’t make a weapon effective. Rails and polymer have their place, but I don’t feel like I’m lacking with my wood and steel 590A1 Retrograde.
About Travis Pike
Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine Gunner, a lifelong firearms enthusiast, and now a regular guy who likes to shoot, write, and find ways to combine the two. He holds an NRA certification as a Basic Pistol Instructor and is the world’s Okayest firearm’s instructor.